Surgery Follow-up: 100% Relapse, 100% Sad

I apologize for disappearing, it’s just that I really owed myself some time away from thinking about the state of my mouth in general. I really just had to put things on the back burner for a while. But the time has come and now I’d like to write about the outcome of what could have been my “life-changing” procedure. As the title to this blog post suggests, my surgery didn’t have the fairytale ending that I was expecting (seems to be a theme, no?). Big picture, things could be worse and part of me feels guilty for complaining about such things that others might consider incredibly petty. But you know what? Screw that. Everything can always be worse. You got your arm bit off by the alligator at the zoo? That’s shitty but so did Bob, only the ambulance never came so he bled out and died.

Carrying on from when I’d last written, the recovery -as far as pain goes- was all uphill from there. After about 10 days, I could really see my new smile and I was ELATED. Like, on a scale of 1 to 10, I was on level rockstar! The sense of freedom that I was experiencing was so new to me. I actually cried tears of happiness one morning after brushing my teeth. So this is what smiling should feel like! I know it sounds kind of pathetic but after all those years of holding back laughter or breaking eye contact with someone after realizing I was smiling too big, things were different now. In general, I’ve always considered myself to be a confident person despite my “flaw”. I know my friends like me for who I am and not for my smile. Cliche, yes, but really I felt like a new person… a prettier, more confident person. Having both of these surgeries was liberating in so many ways. After all this time, I was genuinely happy with my smile which is something I thought would never happen. Really, I was.

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At exactly three weeks post op, I went in and saw my dentist for suture removal. Thank god because the monofil was getting disgusting and my mouth smelling like the damn rodeo was getting old. I guess stitches will do that.

Dr. P. has been my dentist since I was a kid, and as usual was very happy to see me after I’d been out of state for so long. He acted surprised that I had gone through such a cosmetic surgery… yet at the same time, not so surprised. After all, he did perform my first gingivectomy back in 1993; he knew how unhappy I was with my smile even when I was in third grade!

I requested that he use some numbing gel before he pulled out the remaining stitches, which he did, and I was thankful because things were still slightly tender in spots. When he was finished, he examined my incision line and made a comment that was a little bit alarming:”If you want, I can fix that so it looks a little better… but only when you’re ready.” Those were not his exact words but what he said led me to believe that something wasn’t quite right. Until that point I hadn’t yet looked at the scar, believe it or not. He asked if I’d been given any antibiotics after the surgery. I said no, so he went to his office and brought me back a bottle of Peridex which is an oral anti bacterial rinse. Better late than never I guess, right?

Another week went by and I began to notice that my lip wasn’t feeling nearly as tight as it had been in the previous weeks (yes, the surgery made the inside of my lip feel tight but it was never uncomfortable). In just one month, my dream smile vanished into nothing but a memory. I was right back to square one except my new smile displayed a red, jagged scar. I just can’t win, can I?

Part of the deal between my periodontist and I was that, since I was moving (and also that I’m a photographer), I’d send him some clear “after” photos at six weeks which would normally be his followup appointment time. Of course I was half a country away so we decided that pictures would have to suffice. Leading up to the six week mark, I went through a lot of emotions- mainly, and not surprisingly, sadness. I now belonged to the botched plastic surgery club. Another statistic.

About nine weeks had passed and I decided I couldn’t put the pictures off any longer. I set up my camera on the tripod and took some really embarrassing photos. I was mostly interested in writing him an email to ask wtf happened. I was literally promised that my scar would never show “because of the incision location”.

If you’ve read any of my past posts about my nightmarish experiences with my orthodontist, you might guess that I’d come out of that situation with the knowledge to ask questions… ask tons of questions! And I did! One of them happened to be, “I’ve read about relapse where someone’s scar was visible afterward. Will my scar show?”. “Absolutely not.” was his direct answer. He explained that his incision would be too far up which led me to believe he was absolutely sure.

Throughout my blog, I talk about certain aspects of my smile that are embarrassing but I’ve never actually posted a “real” picture of me laughing (Rightfully so. Who wants people seeing them in their worst light, right?). I got an email the other day from a reader who indirectly called me shallow for all that I’ve put myself through in my quest for a prettier smile. Sometimes I wonder if people who read this think I’m a vain nutjob. Well, the reader that day verified that at least one person does.

I’d like people who read this blog to know that there is good reason for me to have felt the desire to better my smile. The first picture below was a few weeks after my crown lengthening procedure and several before the botched one. My husband was on a business trip for six weeks so we FaceTimed each other… on this particular call, I was taking screenshots of him making faces. I didn’t see my part of the picture until afterward… I was mortified. I captured a picture of what I try to cover up every single time I laugh at something! I love that I can be myself around my husband. I let my guard down and occasionally laugh without thinking about my gums showing. After I saw this photo, I thought: “Thank GOD I’m having my surgery soon! No more worries!” Ha.


Well, here is my controlled smile today. And by controlled, I mean that I use my muscles to keep my lip from raising the best I can. Sometimes I can do better.

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Here is a semi-controlled laugh. My scar is the first thing I see.

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So there. That’s my laugh face.

I sent my periodontist the email. There was nothing mean about it because I’m not necessarily mad at him. I read about relapse (though he denied it was much of a possibility at all). Something happened to make this surgery fail and I wanted to know what it was. His response was a simple one, but there was no mistaking his tone; I knew he felt terrible.

“…I am really at a loss to explain why the relapse was so great. The scar should significantly improve over time. […] I would certainly be willing to attempt it again if and when you make it back to this side of the world.[…]”

I’m just not sure what to do now. I have zero desire to have my face re-worked on by someone who’s already failed once, so that’s out of the question. Maybe he didn’t actually fail and it was just me. Maybe I wasn’t a good candidate for this surgery in the first place. Hopefully some day I’ll find a solution for this scar though. It’s pretty embarrassing.

Lip Repositioning Surgery Parts 1 & 2

As I type this, I’m sitting on the second rung of an old ladder which is pulled up to the island in my new kitchen down in Texas. My keystrokes echo off high ceilings and bare floors because our furniture is still on a truck making its way down from the east coast. From where I sit I have a perfect view of the Gulf of Mexico which is pretty cool, but as always, this move is definitely bittersweet. I’m back in my hometown where I can soak up all the sun I want, but I’ve left all my wonderful friends behind which makes my heart ache. It’s my fourth cross-country move and I can say one thing for sure: they always suck. Such is military life, right?

So much has happened since I last posted, and as the title of my post suggests, YES! I had my surgery!! I know Dr. K thought I was completely bat-shit crazy when I informed him that I had to change my drive-out-of-town date to the actual day after surgery and that I was still beyond excited to go through with everything. I assured him that I knew what I was getting into and was fully capable of driving halfway across the country with a gash in my mouth, but the truth is is that I’d psyched myself up so much that I was convinced that the healing process would be just as simple as the crown lengthening. Had I’d known my face would feel like someone mauled me with a lead pipe, I might’ve had second thoughts. Actually… probably not. I wanted this surgery that bad. Regardless, I’m one week post-op and even though I’m in moderate pain and still pretty swollen, it was all 100% worth it. That’s right. One hundred percent worth it.

In the past few months, I’ve done a significant amount of Googling about the lip repositioning surgery. Either my internet searching skills fell to the wayside or there really isn’t anything out there, but I couldn’t find a decent first person take on the actual surgery and recovery (I was mainly interested in the recovery). So I guess I’ll have to do it.

As you may have gathered, I was right in the middle of a move. The day before my surgery, the packers showed up several hours late which wound up to be a total reflection of their workmanship. They half-assed everything and took off at around 6:00 pm with all kinds of loose ends to tie up the following morning – the day of my surgery – and also the day the giant truck was scheduled to leave town. Of course, they showed up four hours late again which wouldn’t have been a big deal if I didn’t have to clean my entire home that evening and begin my drive to fucking Texas the next day. They were supposed to be completely finished before 4:00 so I could leisurely clean the place. Seriously, one guy was so bad, he accidentally packed my pillow (which was in the “don’t pack closet”. He told me I could find it in the box labeled pillers. He literally labeled several boxes: “PULLERS and PULLER”. And wouldn’t ya know it… my damn pillow wasn’t in a single one of them. I found it stuffed in a box with a lamp and my grandma’s fake plant.

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So the day of my surgery, I dropped my kid off with the neighbor and took an 800 mg Ibuprofen an hour prior which I would later be told was a smart move. I chose to forgo the crazy anxiety drug because I drove myself to the appointment, and I also needed to be completely capable of cleaning the house once I returned home. I guess I thought I was super woman.

I showed up and was happily greeted by the girl behind the front desk. Unlike my previous visits, I was the only patient in the waiting room. I didn’t sit around but for a few moments before I was called back. All that talking myself up paid off because I truly felt anxiety-free. I was ready! Or so I’d thought. I forgot how many shots were required to numb my entire upper arch. For my last procedure, I was so jazzed up they probably could’ve gotten away with doing injections right into my eyeball.

Dr. K immediately got right to it. First some pictures and then some topical numbing stuff. Then, a few moments later, shot after shot, and I’m not going to lie… several of the ones in the front triggered gigantic, involuntary tears. I didn’t cry… they were just tears. My face was weeping in advance for what my mouth was about to endure. The only breaks Dr. K took were to reach for more ‘juice’ which turned out to be a good thing because it was all over with just that much quicker. I think it took about 12 shots to start with. After he allowed some time to pass for the stuff to get me nice and numb, he leaned me back got started. We had an audience which, unbeknownst to them, was nothing new to me (they politely asked if it was okay). After struggling with infertility for several years, I’ve grown accustomed to being on some sort of medical display. Screw it. Folks wanna watch procedures? Go right ahead! At least this time I’m not spread eagle and pantsless on a gyno table surrounded by a gaggle of doe eyed med students.

First, he started with some gum contouring. He took a tiny bit more off the gum line at the top of one of my central incisors as it wasn’t quite as high as the one next to it. Then, he began the precise incisions. Fortunately I wasn’t able to watch, but from what I understand, he began his incision at tooth #3 along the mucogingival junction all the way to tooth #14. Then he made a parallel incision about 8 mm above the first one. Basically, he cut me from one side to the other. Here is a chart so you can get an idea as to how far the incision went around my arch… from 3 to 14. Keep in mind #1 and #16 are wisdom teeth and I had mine yanked long ago.

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At one point, somewhere around #6 on the upper incision, I could totally feel him cutting. I was pretty numb so it didn’t necessarily hurt, but I knew something wasn’t right and it kinda grossed me out. I stuck up one finger and mumbled to the best of my ability, “uh…i-kun-full-gat.”. I’m quite certain that after several decades of deciphering patients’ garble, he totally understood what I said without a second thought, and without question, he continued humming as he gave me another injection, asked me if I was okay, and then carried on. He paused for several more pictures (one of his assistants was documenting the procedure) so I took that opportunity to take one of my own. I’ve decided not to post it though because it could probably bring a grown man to his knees.  I dare you to look at this picture. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Before I knew it, he was stitching me up. Twenty-four maybe? Every other one was a dissolvable suture and the others were to be removed after three weeks. The only things that I can point out as “uncomfortable” were the shots (of course), the retracting of my lip which gave me a gnarly hematoma about one centimeter in diameter on the inside pad of my upper lip. I checked everything out in their handheld mirror and was somewhat choked up when I saw my new smile. I was so happy! Here is a photo from about an hour after surgery. My lip had already begun to swell but it’s clear that my smile was drastically different.

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And now for the fun part. What in the hell was I thinking when I thought laboring like a workhorse immediately following a surgery was a good idea?? I pulled up to my house and those idiots were still lollygagging around with more than half our furniture sitting out on the lawn and only a few boxes loaded onto the truck. It was 2:00 pm… Lil Wayne echoed loudly throughout my tree-lined, colonial home neighborhood… these dudes even stopped the fucking ice cream man right after their 10th smoke break, and just before their 11th. I know I sound ungrateful, but seriously, we bought lunch for these slackers on both days because as we’ve learned in the past, food (and kindness laced with tolerance) is motivation for them not to destroy your shit. The least they could do is finish the fucking job they’re being paid to do on time, but no. These assholes are guaranteed to get paid, regardless of their effort, with little incentive to do even a mediocre job.

The sun sank lower in the sky and it became clear that they’d be there long after dark… which meant the baby would go nuts because we were derailed from her strict schedule (by far) and didn’t have access to a quiet place for her to go to sleep, which meant that she’d probably need an exorcism two hours into our 1,650 mile drive. It also meant I wouldn’t be able to get to work on cleaning the house. The anesthesia had long worn off and my face was pounding. Pounding. I took another 800 mg Ibuprofen but it did practically nothing in regards to pain relief. The movers finally left at 11:30 pm so I fell back on plan B and took one of the hydrocodones left over from my first surgery.  That helped significantly and I was able to clean my bathroom. Luckily I spent a great deal of my days keeping our home in order so cleaning turned out to be pretty effortless. Night one of urban camping on an air mattress was absolutely miserable. My sweet husband didn’t air the thing up properly so my hip and shoulder grazed the hardwood floor underneath as I tossed and turned while periodically drooling small amounts of blood… which tasted delightful. Rather than getting sleep, I subconsciously worried about ruining my favorite pillow.

I can think of only a handful of times where I wasn’t a morning person. Even hungover! Not Urban Camping Day 2. I awoke to a great deal of pain which somewhat subsided about 45 minutes after I got moving. I hit the ground running though because there were a million and one things to get done before the property manager showed up to do our final inspection. My three-day-drive was to begin in only a few short hours so anything more than Ibuprofen was totally out of the question.

We drove seven hours – me in my car with both cats, and my husband in his truck with the baby – and made it to our hotel where I took a hot shower and did my best to relax. Stress levels were high because we were hauling all kinds of shit that had to be unloaded from the truck bed for fear of theft. Plus the baby was pissed that we’d subjected her to her “torture device” for so long. Somehow I managed to eat a grilled chicken sandwich from Chic fil A but HO-LEE-HELL I was in pain. And it took me over an hour to eat. I have this thing about needing to chew with my mouth closed, so that may have played a part in the hour-long meal.

I intentionally woke up at midnight to take some more medication because the swelling was getting pretty bad. We started again the next morning at 4:30 am sharp for our 14 hour second day push. At 6:00 am, I took another 800 mg Ibuprofen. As directed, I took another at noon. Five hours passed before my eyelids became too heavy to ignore. Like past the point of dangerous. I called my husband and told him that we needed to pull over STAT.

At the rest stop, I laid my head down on my center console and instantly fell into a deep, deep slumber. Just me and my cats. I jolted awake “seconds later” (which was actually half an hour later) to my husband tapping on my window holding the baby on his hip with the best ‘WTF look’ I’d seen in a long time. He literally showed me his watch as if to say, “Your napping is dicking up our drive time!!!”. Actually, he did say this later on at the hotel but I blew him off and told him to be quiet and fetch me a red bull with an ice pack.

To this date, I can’t think of a more fulfilling sleep than that one. I later realized that taking excessive amounts of Ibuprofen will cause drowsiness. I’m such an idiot. Maybe I should’ve read all those papers that came with my medication. The papers that I promptly tossed in the recycling bin. Regardless, my recharge was awesome because aside from my pain, I felt like a new person. It’s amazing how sleep (or lack of) can affect the human body. All it took was twenty-something minutes.

We made it to the hotel and did the whole unloading thing once more. In the rain. The baby was restless and I was in a significant amount of pain so I was a total dick to everyone within a 10 foot radius; I could feel my heartbeat throughout every inch of my face. My eyes were bloodshot and the swelling was ridiculous. I looked like a blowfish. This was my worst day by far, but I managed to sleep that night.

We started day three at 5:30 AM. Because of my Ibuprofen scare the day before, I didn’t want to take any drugs. I was hurting pretty bad but not quite like day two. After seven more hours of driving with my ferocious beasts, we finally made it to our new home in Texas. Look how swollen I was. My lip! My nose! My cheeks!! Wow!

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Day 4 post op was still pretty painful. It hurt to laugh and smile of course. It also hurt to be whacked in the face by a balled up baby fist. That did happen and I went down for the count. I promptly took a hydrocodone which seemed to answer all of my prayers. If you’re reading this because you’re worried about pain during recovery, keep in mind that I was only taking Ibuprofen. When I took actual pain killers, things calmed down significantly! I was running low though and still pretty swollen so I decided to call and talk to Dr. K’s assistant. She told me that since the lip is so ‘vascular’ that my swelling (even up into my forehead) was all very normal. She sent in a new prescription for some more hydrocodone and asked me to report back.

Day 5 was more of the same but much less swelling. It was this day that I realized my swelling probably had a lot to do with the fact that I basically allowed myself zero down time after the surgery. It was literally ‘go go go!’. Not once did I sit down on the couch and veg out like any normal human being would after being cut open and stitched back up. Luckily we ordered a brand new mattress and box spring, so even though our house was empty, we at least had that.

Day 6 was the first day it didn’t burn like the dickens to swish water through my mouth after brushing my teeth.  I was getting somewhere! Also, I was able to smile pretty good. I am SO PLEASED!

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I promise to report back with the rest of my recovery soon because I’ve definitely got a ways to go. I presume my next few days will be busy with unpacking all our crap so bare with me!

My last day of Invisalign

955 Days. That is my official number. That’s twenty-two thousand nine-hundred and twenty hours keeping up with the whole aligner routine.

If I told you my last day of Invisalign came with fanfare, I’d be lying. It’s the day I’ve been anticipating for a very long time and it’s disheartening how underwhelming today’s events were. It’s so unfair because after everything I’ve gone through, don’t you think I deserve an awesome ending?! Balloons… maybe some cake? I treated myself to a fully-loaded frapuccino in self pity and then, in true female fashion, immediately felt guilty halfway through because I’d chosen to skip the gym.

So now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you’ve read some of my past posts, you might already know that when my teeth aren’t restrained, they tend to start rotating back into crooked land, which is why I wanted needed fixed retainers on both the upper and lower. It is also why I had undergone a fiberotomy on the worst ones. I asked my orthodontist today if she ever sees unruly teeth like mine and she assured me that it’s pretty common. Damn overzealous teeth.

I was so excited to go in to get my fixed retainers (some people call them permanent retainers but this is an incorrect term because they technically can be removed… I know firsthand). I was certain that today would mark the day that I’d no longer be a slave to my trays. No more public spit strings, no more rushed coffee, no more denying the sample lady in the deli section. I envisioned strutting out of that office only pausing to jump and kick my heels together. Well that definitely didn’t play out. Seriously, they didn’t even make an effort to say “good luck!” or “thanks for giving us all your time and money!” not even a legit, “Thanks for choosing this practice instead of all the others in the entire Hampton Roads area!”. Nope, none of that. They did keep my baby company though which was nice. To be fair, they’ve always been awesome with her.

So here’s what happened: The lower wire went in great with no problems, but after she cemented and light-cured the wire into the upper arch, she ran into an issue. A big issue. It was absolutely impossible for me to close my teeth together… any of them, save for my front incisors. After much deliberation, she and my orthodontist decided that I’d simply have to make due with a thick Essix retainer. They really did try to fulfill my wishes, though. But so now what? There was a wire heavily glued to the backs of my top four incisors and of course she couldn’t just leave it there. It had to be removed! She pried off the wire and to her surprise, (but not to mine because I tend to have exceptional luck) very little of the glue came along with it. She spent a good portion of the next eternity grinding and drilling away all the leftover gunk. Maybe I’m just a total pansy, but it really sucked. She was on a time crunch (think: I’m her last patient and then it’s lunch time! She seriously told me this which is why I think she was in a hurry.) so the burs were running almost continuously on my incisors creating lots of friction-induced heat spots that the nerves in my teeth just loved! This was also the day she was training a new assistant. Since there was nothing else for the girl to do at the time, she was assigned the job of blowing air on my teeth to counteract the heat. It kinda worked until the veteran assistant changed positions. The new girl seemed lost (hey, we’ve all been there, right?) so instead of stopping the air, she accidentally blew it half on my upper lip, and half up my nose. Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.25.10 PMI had to raise my hand for it all to stop.  The good thing is that the glue was finally removed… but the bad news is that now my teeth in that area are really sensitive to cold liquid (edit: and the enamel is also fucking cracked!).

So now I wait for my retainers.






My Crown Lengthening Surgery

Fair warning: If you are squeamish, beware! I’ve posted a picture with blood.

As of writing this, it’s been six days since my surgery and I’ve got a lot to say! Most of it is good… which is good, no?

In the days leading up to my procedure, I was downright scared. I blame Google and YouTube. Something about the idea of grinding away bone from my skull, while I’m conscious, makes me a little uncomfortable. I told the office staff about my apprehension so they called in a prescription for some anxiety medication. Monday rolled around and at exactly 9:30 AM, I swallowed three tiny, innocuous-looking pills with no idea what to expect. Would I trip over the cat? Would I make fun of my doctor’s nose hairs? Would I strip naked in the waiting room?

I got in the shower and only moments later, a warm and lovely feeling crept over me. The drug’s awesomeness had clearly kicked in and I wondered how the hell I was going to finish getting myself ready in less than an hour. I managed to dry my hair. Straightening proved to be a challenge, mainly because the fucking thing wasn’t plugged in and I didn’t realize it until after I was ‘half way done’. Newsflash: I am the reason for the warnings on hair styling tools. I was feeling so good, I might’ve taken a bubble bath with my hair dryer if I could have. And then I somehow managed to apply makeup. At one point I remember stopping after the big accomplishment of drawing eyeliner on one eye. I thought, ‘This is dumb. I’m done.”.  I put my pencil down and almost zipped up my makeup bag before I snapped out of it and returned to my daunting task.

On the way to the office, I renamed my husband “Jeeves” because he was now my driver. I rode in my passenger seat in a state of complete bliss and snapped a few selfies for a before comparison. Jeeves dropped me off right up front to the building’s grandiose entrance. They had a heavy revolving door that required extra effort for someone who’s all jazzed up on benzos. Someone like me. I smoothed out my shirt, gathered my composure and walked through a packed office and up to the receptionist. She was someone I hadn’t spoken to before, so when she charged me $2,000 rather than the quoted $1,800, I tried disputing it. I was clearly not in the right state of mind to do such a thing so I just paid it and figured I’d sort it out later (which I did and actually received my refund check yesterday).

I was called back pretty quickly and from that point, I only remember sporadic moments like when I tried cracking a joke about wearing headphones to drown out Dr. K’s humming. It was totally a joke but it came out all wrong. My face was numb and the anxiety medication gave me the wit of a farm animal, so my attempt to backpedal pretty much made it worse. I just laid there like a blob and hoped he knew I was joking. God I’m such an idiot sometimes.

He got to work right away. One of the things I do remember clearly was the suction. His assistant was kind of rough with my mouth but that may have been because she was clearing out places that weren’t numb. There were quite a few shots but they weren’t an issue because the topical anesthetic they used before hand definitely did its job. The whole procedure was completely painless and took just under an hour which was surprising to me since he did my entire upper arch. I did take a photo right at the end before he stitched me up. I’ve desaturated the color it to lessen the WTF factor:

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The part I dreaded most about the surgery was the bone removal and even that was no big deal. I wore my sunglasses for the duration and was pretty grossed out when afterwards I had to wipe off the layer of bone debris before I could actually see through them. Ew.

They insisted that my husband come back to the room so they could explain the post op instructions. I couldn’t understand why they just wouldn’t tell me! Well, uh, now I realize why. I put my aligners back in and covered my mouth with an ice pack as I followed them to the reception desk. He said something that made me laugh and when I did, his expression immediately changed from happy to horrified. “Put that thing back over your mouth. You’re scaring people. You’re bleeding!

When I got in the car, I opened the mirror in my visor and was immediately startled (and slightly humored). I looked like the clown from the movie It.


This is how I rode home. With a mouth full of gross. I would’ve taken out my aligners but I was wearing white jeans and I have a knack for staining things, so stuck it out and just hoped my nosy neighbor wasn’t outside. He wasn’t.

I sauntered in and laid down in the sunroom to rest. Just as I dozed off, I heard what sounded like a raccoon rustling through trash. Apparently my husband had turned the baby loose and she’d discovered my post op literature.


After a while, my mouth started coming back to life. I kept waiting for the just-got-mule-kicked-in-the-face feeling but it never came. Just in case though, I took one of my prescribed pain killers. Nausea ensued shortly after so I waited twenty-four hours before I decided that I really didn’t need any pain meds. My mouth hardly hurt! In fact, the majority of my “pain” was the bruising from the injection sites. This was exactly the opposite of what I was expecting! 9/10 would do again!

Here is one of my “inebriated” before pictures:

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And here is one from about an hour after the procedure:


I note the time for a couple reasons. First, the entire middle of my face was still numb so I couldn’t smile normally. If my lip stayed like that every time I smiled, I’d be a happy lady. It really is amazing how big of a difference lip level makes in how tall or short your teeth appear. This is what I hope to accomplish with the next surgery. Second, it didn’t take long for my gums to swell.

And now for the disheartening part. My teeth haven’t gone back to looking quite like this but hey, it’s only been six days so my outlook is still positive. When I put my aligners in, there is very little visible difference and it makes me kind of sad. What’s even more sad is that we’re having to move out of state one month sooner than expected and it’s likely that I won’t be able to have the second, more important procedure because it might not allow an adequate amount of time for my mouth to heal from this first procedure, which is six weeks. This all depends on how soon they’d be able to get me in.

I think my problem no longer lies in the shape and alignment of my teeth, but with the hypermobility of my lip and the repositioning surgery would very likely fix that problem. Dr. K would need to agree to do the procedure right before I move, which would still be within the six week time frame but cutting it close, and then have someone else in Texas do a follow up. I haven’t yet discussed this with him, but I think it still may be an option. Maybe if I turn on the waterworks? It’s difficult to put into words just how badly I want to have this done.


The swelling went down and my teeth look bad ass. He was able to make them look almost exactly like my computer-simulated “after” picture. Awesome!

Great News!

Last week I excitedly went in for my appointment with my area’s most reputable periodontist. I thought I knew what I needed but was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was wrong. Rather than having another gingivectomy, my case requires something slightly more invasive however it would deliver an instant, more dramatic result: crown lengthening paired with a lip stabilization surgery (also called ‘lip lowering’ or ‘lip repositioning’). He was impressed that I had prepared some before and after photos to show him (Yes, I’m a nerd.) and assured me that my ideal “after” wasn’t too far from a possible reality. Plus my top lip would be fuller and cover most of the exposed gingiva.

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simulation of crown lengthening without lip repositioning

I’m all for the crown lengthening and think that it alone will do wonders for my smile. After studying my x-rays and examining under my gums with a measuring probe, Dr. K determined how many millimeters of tissue and bone would need to be removed. I lucked out. Some people have short teeth and the enamel stops at the bone. My enamel actually goes up under the bone making it possible for me to have it removed to expose natural, beautiful teeth (ME? Beautiful teeth?? NO WAY!). This is one reason why some people need porcelain veneers during their crown lengthening process… because they were born with shorter teeth. Just one more thing for me to be thankful for, right?

Here are a few examples of crown lengthening, along with their respective sources, that I pulled from the interwebz.

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Please take note that these photos do not belong to me. If you click on the pictures, you’ll be directed to their original source. I chose these examples because the procedures were clearly performed by a doctor who knew what they were doing.

The lip stabilization surgery is something that I’ve contemplated for a while now but always assumed it was way too out of the box to even be considered. I didn’t realize it was such a simple process though! Take a look at some more before and afters I’ve found via Google. In particular, I really like Dr. Farnoosh’s work (my first two examples, and in the past he’s given me permission to link to his website) but he’s on the west coast and I’m on the east, so it’s just out of the question… he might as well be on the other side of the world.

I’m assuming the first patient below had crown lengthening done as well. WOW!

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And lastly, this YouTube video.

But as usual, things aren’t as awesome as they sound. There is always a downfall, right? When I shyly mentioned my insecurities to my orthodontist about my “gummy smile” (god, I hate that term and I pray for the chance that I’ll never have to use it again very soon) she tried reassuring me that eventually my lip would move further down as I age. My periodontist confirmed this too.

I get it! But here’s the deal… who in the hell wants to put off having a pretty smile until they’re eligible for a senior citizen discount?? NOT ME. Because let me tell you something about gravity and body parts– you don’t get to pick and choose which ones are assholes first. Pop out a kid and that shit accelerates!


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At the rate of the chart above, my mouth might look normal when I’m about 178… I ain’t got time for that!



Regardless of the possible outcome though, people who have never experienced the extreme insecurities that “excessive gingival display” can inflict on everyday life have zero idea how life changing this surgery could be! People like my husband. The guy with freakishly perfect teeth.

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He says he loves my smile ‘just the way it is’, and I understand that. I wouldn’t want him to change a damn thing about his appearance, but I also understand that if there was something that he wanted to change that has bothered him his entire conscious life –and there was an easy fix– I’d be okay with that. Within reason of course. Do you get where I’m going with this? Yep. He doesn’t want me to do the surgery.

Though he won’t voluntarily admit it, I think it may be because of my past luck with shelling out tons of cash for, as he sees it, an unachievable result. The crown lengthening alone is $1,800. I believe that after watching me go through all this bullshit with my current orthodontist, he’s lost all hope in cosmetic dentistry, et cetera. Yes, I totally disagree with the notion that orthodontics is purely cosmetic!

Anyway, I’ve got several weeks until my next appointment. Regardless, I will be getting a fiberotomy on one of my rotated teeth. Hopefully by then, I will have convinced him that his “hot wife” can be even hotter.



Tomorrow I’ll be going in for a consultation with my area’s most reputable periodontist to inquire about undergoing a fiberotomy procedure. While I’m there we’ll also discuss the possibility of having a second gingivectomy. I’m more excited about the latter because of the drastic difference it could make in my smile.

If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, I’ll explain: A gingivectomy, in short, is a near-painless procedure where the doctor basically lasers away excess gum tissue to contour your teeth. I know gingivectomies are done for other health related issues too, but this is why I’m wanting one. Solely for aesthetic purposes. And from Wikipedia, a fiberotomy “is an orthodontic surgical procedure designed to sever the gingival fibers around a tooth. It usually reduces the tendency to relapse of tooth rotations corrected by braces or other treatments. The most frequently encountered post-orthodontic problem is the retention of re-established tooth position. Relapse (drifting of the tooth back to its position prior to orthodontic correction) may occur anywhere, but it is often associated with teeth that have undergone rotation (twisting) as part of the orthodontic therapy. A fiberotomy involves the detachment of the fibers that attach the tooth to the bone via the gum. The fibers act much like twisted rubber bands and releasing the tension between the fibers and the tooth reduces the forces that attempt to pull the tooth back to its original position. It is performed near the completion of the orthodontics and is shown to be effective in preventing the relapse of teeth. To perform this procedure, the area around the tooth is numbed and simple cuts are made along the gum to sever the fibers; this procedure is painless as long as the patient takes an analgesic after the numbing has worn off.”

I’m not so worried about the healing process with the gingivectomy because I experienced my first one as a nine-year-old kid when I went for a teeth cleaning. While I was there, my dentist asked my mom if the procedure was something we’d be interested in and of course I said yes. I was tired of the little assholes at school calling me gummy bear.

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I remember returning to class not too long afterward. No pain. I was still growing then, so my dentist could only remove so much and it obviously wasn’t enough.

Now the fiberotomy on the other hand… that one seems pretty scary. I just tried watching a YouTube video of an actual procedure… I got about 14 seconds in, and then immediately got the hell outta there. Nope nope nope. Cannot watch that! I’m no sissy when it comes to dental shots and procedures, but that’s probably because I’ve never actually seen what goes on- and I’m not about to start now.

Here’s a more G-rated animation that will only turn your stomach just slightly.

Also, here are side by side pictures of how I’d like my gums to be contoured.

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This after picture is the product of some pretty shoddy photoshop. I used the liquify tool which is basically just pushing around pixels so the specular highlights on my teeth are in unnatural spots… this is merely an idea. Of course, whether we can do this or not is contingent upon the anatomy of my actual bone. My fingers are crossed. Most people have to pair this procedure with veneers which is something I definitely don’t want. I’m not even considering it an option.

I’ll report back tomorrow with what he says!


Aligner doesn’t fit quite right after getting a filling

Thank goodness I was patient enough to wait until my “last” aligner to take care of a cavity. I’ve been putting it off for this exact reason even though both my orthodontist and dentist said it ‘shouldn’t be a problem’. Who knows, maybe it isn’t that big of a deal. All I know is that my top tray is lifted away from my last molar and won’t sit in place like it should. It seems though that it’s still tight over my problem teeth (#s 6 and 7) which is something I suppose.

I tried on my aligner for my dentist but the left side of my face was completely numb so I guess I couldn’t tell that something was off. After the filling, she sent me over to hygiene for my biannually cleaning. Afterward, the hygienist slathered on a fluoride treatment and instructed me not to wear my aligners for a couple hours. It wasn’t until after then that I had noticed.

I have three overcorrection aligners which I do plan to wear, so I guess I need to go back to my dentist to have her shape up my tooth. I’m really not looking forward to more power tools rattling my skull. And if she can’t fix it? Well, whatever. I’ll just pull the plug. I’m over this whole process. It’s been just about two and a half years… that’s a year and a half more than what my original orthodontist predicted.

So! My advice to you? If you absolutely have to take care of a cavity during your Invisalign treatment, definitely verify with your orthodontist that he/she is okay with the procedure. You may even want to get this in writing! If your aligners no longer fit after your filling and your dentist is unable to fix it, you may be responsible for paying for a mid-course correction or refinement. I know I’ve read about it somewhere on AlignTech’s website but I’m too lazy right now to find the link. Anyway, play it smart! Even the smallest discrepancy can affect how the aligners move your teeth, especially if it’s not taken care of right away.

In my case, I don’t really give a shit. I’m so close to the end and these overcorrection aligners won’t be doing much anyway. I just now decided that I’m not calling my dentist.